Personal injury law allows individuals to pursue compensation if injured by another party. Negligence is a key concept in personal injury cases and refers to a failure to exercise reasonable care. Seeking out an attorney is important if harmed due to another person's negligence.

Understanding Negligence

Negligence is the failure to behave with the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised under the same circumstances. The five elements required to prove negligence are: legal duty, breach of duty, harm to the plaintiff, proximate cause, and cause-in-fact. Legal duty of care is determined by factors such as the creation of risk, voluntary undertaking, knowledge of harm, and certain relationships. For example, if a driver fails to stop at a red light and causes an accident, they have breached their duty of care.

The breach of duty of care can be determined using the Hand Formula, which compares the burden of precautions to the probability and severity of potential harm. Harm to the plaintiff must be bodily harm or harm to property. Proximate cause is assessed based on the foreseeability of the defendant's actions causing harm. Plaintiff conduct and intervening factors can affect the analysis of proximate cause. Cause-in-fact is the easiest element to prove and considers whether the plaintiff's harm would not have occurred without the defendant's conduct. For instance, if a doctor fails to diagnose a patient's condition, and the patient's condition worsens as a result, the doctor's failure to diagnose is the cause-in-fact of the harm.

The Elements of a Negligence Claim

Duty of care is an essential element of a negligence claim, requiring individuals to act in a manner that avoids foreseeable harm to others. If a store owner fails to clean up a spill in their store, and a customer slips and gets injured, the store owner has breached their duty of care. Breach of duty occurs when someone fails to meet the standard of care expected in a particular situation. Resulting damage is necessary to establish a negligence claim, as the plaintiff must show that they suffered harm as a direct result of the defendant's breach of duty. Examining a specific case, X & Y v London Borough of Hounslow [2008], helps illustrate how the elements of a negligence claim are applied in practice. In this case, the local government failed to maintain a public park, leading to a child's injury when they fell from a broken swing.

Seeking Compensation for Personal Injury

It is crucial to seek legal representation if injured due to another person's negligence to ensure your rights are protected and maximize your chances of receiving fair compensation. Personal injury attorneys have experience and expertise in handling complex personal injury cases and can navigate the legal process on your behalf. Damages that can be recovered in a personal injury case include special damages (economic losses such as medical expenses and lost wages), general damages (non-economic losses such as pain and suffering), and punitive damages (awarded to punish the defendant for egregious conduct). For example, if a person is injured in a car accident and incurs medical expenses and lost wages as a result, they can seek compensation for these special damages. The statute of limitations for a personal injury case in New York State can vary depending on the circumstances, so it's important to take action as soon as possible to avoid missing the deadline. If you have a complaint about an insurance company's handling of your personal injury claim, there is a process for filing complaints in New York State to address any issues.